Jennifer Leyting had a question. John Tong had the answer.
Thanks to their pairing through the EITS Mentorship Program, Leyting now has access to better data, and Tong has more understanding of student reporting needs.
“We can be each other’s resources,” said Leyting, assistant graduate coordinator for the doctoral program in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s infectious diseases department. “Never be afraid to ask for help.”
The program began in 2008 as a way for EITS employees to learn from each other and was based off a military mentorship model. The topics for mentor/protege pairings were technical in nature. It expanded in 2010 to include EITS student workers and IT staff external to EITS. In 2013, the program expanded again to include IT and non-IT employees across the University System of Georgia.
Participants can apply to mentor a fellow staff member or be mentored by someone with expertise in a specific area. That area can be anything from learning a specific software program to developing leadership skills.
“The intent of the program is to provide an avenue of professional development and networking,” said Jonathan Hardy, EITS director of systems engineering and telephone services and leadership sponsor for the program.
Applications for the fall cycle, which will run from September through January, are open through Aug. 26. Visit https://eits.uga.edu/mentorship_program/ to apply.
After the application period closes, the 13 members of the mentorship council make the pairings. For the spring cycle, around 30 pairs participated. Council members, mentors and proteges gather for a kickoff meeting at the beginning of the cycle, a midpoint social and an end-of-cycle celebration.
Those are the only official meetings. The council shares its guidelines at the kickoff meeting, but Hardy said the pairs are encouraged to set their own goals and schedule.
Leyting and Tong were paired in the spring 2019 cycle but have continued to meet. She initially wanted someone to help with relational database management for information related to students she works with, and Tong’s area of expertise is student reporting.
It wasn’t their first time in the program. Tong has mentored twice, and Leyting has been a protege twice and served on the mentorship council.
“Being able to have this kind of mentorship allows for a different kind of growth,” said Tong, application analyst principal in EITS. “You learn to work on a one-on-one basis.”
Vince Selvidge, IT project manager in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and Stacy Boyles, IT program manager in EITS, have been working together for more than two years.
“It makes us more collaborative as a university,” Selvidge said.
Selvidge came to UGA from a government background and requested Boyles’ help as a mentor through the program to learn about project management in higher education, and they have remained friends since then.
Not only does the mentorship program create new relationships and networking opportunities, but Boyles and Selvidge also said that it breaks down silos by pairing people from other areas, gets people out of their comfort zone, creates an informal learning environment, and introduces new and different perspectives.
“That’s one of the best things about the mentorship program—it helps everyone,” Boyles said.